LAHORE– Pakistan’s pharmaceutical industry has enormous potential to grow from existing three per cent global share and the current government is extending supporting hand to the exporters to explore and tap hidden markets.
“The local pharma industry can tap markets like Africa and all stakeholders need to work together to enhance exports,” said Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) President Irfan Iqbal Sheikh after inaugurating the 10th Pak Pharma and Healthcare Expo at the Lahore’s Expo Centre on Tuesday.
The conference followed an international conference on pharma, food and healthcare.
The three-day exhibition cum conference is being organized by the Prime Event Management and is supported by the Pakistan Pharmaceuticals Manufacturing Association (PPMA).
Irfan Iqbal Sheikh told reporters that Pakistani exporters could especially tap African region where Pakistani exports stood around $1.67 billion as compared to the Indian exports volume of $25 billion and China’s $91 billion.
“The joint working among the government, the business community, the exporters and the national drug regulator could help Pakistan grab more global market share in pharma exports.”
Sheikh said Pakistani pharmaceutical entrepreneurs have capacity to enhance manufacturing and exports, adding Pakistan’s total exports that stood around $24.8 billion were much below than the exports of Vietnam and India.
He said a facilitation desk set up at the LCCI was also working on pharmaceutical exports.
He said though the government wanted to support the country’s industry it needed to revisit interest rate and withholding tax (WHT) to further facilitate businesses.
“We urge the government to rationalise and reduce the ratio of interest rate, duties and taxes so that more and more people could do their businesses in an investor friendly atmosphere.”
The LCCI president asked the government to fix its policies by getting all stakeholders on board.
Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PPMA) Chairman Muhammad Zaka Ur Rehman said the business community and the government were working jointly on an export-led growth programme.
“We are telling the government about current problems the export-led industry is facing.”
Zaka Ur Rehman said the African countries like Ethiopia could be lucrative destination for Pakistani pharmaceutical exporters.
Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) Director Dr Obaid Ullah said Pakistan was far behind than other countries in the exports of active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) manufacturing despite being potential market for it.
He said a joint working group comprising officials of FBR, DRAP and API manufacturers is working in the FBR to sort out export opportunities through more government facilitation.
“This expo will set a showcase for multiple pharmaceutical products and a future path for enhanced exports,” the DRAP’s director said.
Prime Event Management Director Kamran Abbasi told reporters that around 70 local and international companies were participating in the three-day expo. Companies participating in the trade show are from Japan, Turkey, Malaysia, Taiwan and Korea
He said though some Chinese entrepreneurs were unable to attend the trade show because of coronavirus outbreak, but their principles were participating.
Kamran Abbasi hoped a good number of industry people would be visiting the exhibition in three days.
He said the international conference would highlight the working and achievements of Pakistani pharmaceutical industry and the role of DRAP in the promotion of the industry.
A good number of business visitors attended the first day of the exhibition that would last as of Feb 13.